What are the factors that go into choosing a patio door? In Boston, the elements are a concern, which means that you’ll need to be prepared for maintenance or you’ll want to choose a material that is impervious to heat cold and moisture. Door styles are also a concern, one that will affect the way the door opens and thus how you use the door. And, perhaps most importantly, energy efficiency is something to think about. The more energy efficient the door is, the less you’ll pay on heating and cooling bills. Let’s look at each of these factors to help you choose a new door!

Which Patio Door Style is Right for You?

When it comes to patio door styles, there are several to choose from. Consider the way you’ll use the door. Will it be the primary entryway when you are moving furniture in and out of the home? If so, you’ll want a door that opens as wide as possible. Here are some of the most popular options (you can also click here to see door styles offered by Jeld-Wen):

  • Sliding patio doors are the most popular style — the kind of door that most people think of when they think of patio doors. While they generally have a two-panel design, there are other styles available with three or more panels. To open this door, simply slide the panels on rollers. Since the panels on these doors tend to be large, they offer an unbroken view of the outdoors. The main disadvantage to a sliding door is that when it is open, the panels still block part of the doorway’s opening, which means you won’t be able to use the entire opening in which the door has been installed.
  • Folding patio doors slide on rollers along the top and bottom of the doorway just like sliding patio doors but they fold like an accordion. These are available with different sash styles, including French folding doors. You’ll be able to open these doors wider than a sliding patio door but because each panel is narrower than the panels of a sliding door, it will interfere more with the view of your patio.
  • Swinging doors are patio doors that swing open on hinges, just like a standard exterior door. They offer the same view as a sliding patio door (although you can opt for other styles, like French doors, if you wish). Because both doors open outward, this gives you the widest possible opening for moving furniture — but because of the center latching mechanism between the two doors, they can sometimes be draftier than other door styles.

Choosing Patio Door Materials

The next thing to consider are the materials. Patio doors are available in fiberglass, aluminum, steel, vinyl, wood and clad wood. Choose based on a variety of factors including looks, maintenance needs and energy efficiency.

Fiberglass doors, for instance, are a great choice for a low-upkeep door and they accurately replicate the look of wood. Wood doors will need more maintenance in Boston’s climate but you’ll be able to choose from a variety of species like mahogany or fir depending on the look you want. Steel, aluminum and clad wood doors all require a small amount of maintenance as the years go by — but, because these doors all feature metal construction, the looks you’ll be able to choose from will be a bit more limited. The same goes for vinyl doors, which are available in a variety of colors if not textures. However, vinyl has the advantage of being both energy efficient and virtually maintenance-free.

What about Energy Efficiency?

Energy efficiency is a major concern when it comes to patio door selection. Look for patio doors with a low U-factor, which are designed to reduce heat transfer. E-coatings are also important because they help reflect excess heat out of the home during the hot summer months. And, just like windows, double or even triple glazed doors (two or three panes of glass instead of just one) will help reduce thermal transfer during both hot and cold weather. To learn more, check out this post that answers questions about energy efficient windows.

Styles, materials and energy efficiency are the three keys to choosing the right patio door. Once you’ve made your selections, you’ll be ready to think about the details like door colors and the hardware that will give the door a finished look.

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